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You started a business and need to take payments. The only problem is – you don’t have a point-of-sale (POS) system. You search the web, hoping to quickly find the best POS system in Australia, only to discover dozens of cloud-based options that do everything from inventory management to payment processing.
In this review, I’ll compare and contrast Australia’s best POS systems for small businesses, unpack their features, and tell you which one you should pick in November 2023.
Best overall POS for small businesses and retailers.
Square is a massive name in the POS world. Whether visiting a food truck or paying a craft vendor at an outdoor market, you’ll probably come across a Square reader every week or two in your daily routine.
- Australian businesses use Square to avoid implementing clunky, unnecessary technology.
Launching in 2009 as a device that enabled businesses to accept payments, Square quickly expanded its offering to include a comprehensive cloud-based POS software package.
The company offers several hardware options to customise your POS experience, with equipment ranging from chip card readers to entire Square registers.
1. Easy To Learn.
Square POS is very user-friendly and intuitive.
If your business trains new employees regularly, hires people who may not have point-of-sale system experience, or simply wants to spend less time on training, Square point-of-sale will save you time.
- Square uses a simple, clean, modern interface that takes just a few minutes to learn.
If your company uses bar codes to ring up products, you can easily connect a bar code scanner to the Square hardware as well.
2. Third-Party Integrations.
The Square App Marketplace allows seamless third-party integrations with many apps. For example:
- If you’re a service provider, you can connect with apps like Acuity Scheduling to take appointments through your Square point-of-sale system.
- If you run an e-commerce site, you will love the native integration with WooCommerce and BigCommerce.
3. No Monthly Fees (On The Free Plan).
You won’t pay monthly fees to use the Square point-of-sale (POS) system when you purchase the company’s free plan.
While you will pay a slightly higher (1.9%) fee on certain transactions, which we will discuss below, you won’t need to tack on membership fees to your overall costs.
4. Clear And Competitive Fees.
As of November 2023, you’ll pay between 1.6% and 2.2% of each transaction, depending on its risk profile:
- 1.6% when a customer’s card is present and tapped, inserted, or swiped on Square Terminal or Square Register.
- 1.9% when a customer’s card is present and tapped, inserted or swiped on Square Reader and Square Stand.
- 2.2% when a customer’s card is not present and manually entered the card number via your Square hardware or cloud software.
Afterpay is integrated into Square, and fees of both platforms are charged simultaneously. As of Jan 2023, you’ll be up for 6% + 30¢.
What about hardware?
- Square Register is the best option and will set you back about $1,100.
- Square Stand is cheaper, but represents a false economy, (in my humble opinion), as it attracts higher (1.9%) fees and requires you to buy an iPad.
- For on-the-move payments, you can get a handheld Square terminal for just over $300 Australian bucks.
- You can transform any mobile device into a payment processor using a mobile Square reader, which is $59.
If your business is transacting over $250K / year, I recommend you contact Square and see if you can negotiate a better rate.
1. Limited Scalability.
Square POS is best for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). The ideal use case is where one person takes orders via one point of sale.
- It’s less well-suited for large retail stores with multiple registers.
Square hardware isn’t compatible with any other cloud-based POS software packages, so you’ll need to use the system’s built-in software for all payment processing.
High-volume inventory management is also not a strength.
Small to medium businesses won’t run into issues, but large businesses needing demand forecasting and inventory purchase orders should consider Lightspeed or Shopify POS instead.
2. Limited Customer Support.
While many POS systems have 24/7 phone support, Square’s phone support team is only available during regular Australian business hours (9- 5AEST, Monday through Friday).
- Email support is available at any time.
Of course, your business may not only operate during these hours, leaving you out of luck if you encounter a problem that requires the company’s assistance.
|How Does The Square POS Stack Up?||Score|
|Ease Of Use||5/5|
|Business Management Tools||4/5|
Square POS is the best payment processing solution for Australian retail and small businesses because it offers best-in-class hardware as well as easy-to-use, intuitive software that is surprisingly rich in features.
For an additional fee, you also get access to their payroll management software.
Other POS providers offer many of these features too, but none of them integrate everything into such a cohesive, friendly, powerful package.
2. Shopify POS.
Best POS for e-commerce shops with retail stores.
If you run your e-commerce business through Shopify, you benefit from the company’s powerful online payment gateway.
But how do you accept payments in person?
Shopify POS, that’s how.
If you’ve been using Shopify for online payment processing and have now decided to roll our physial stores across Australia, this is a great option.
1. Seamless CX Across Online And In-Person.
With Shopify POS, tour customers can buy online and pick it up in-store.
Or they can buy in-store and have the order shipped directly to their home (This is particularly useful if you don’t store all of your inventory at the same location).
(Related: Best Accounting Software In Australia).
2. Advanced Inventory Management.
Shopify POS includes works seamlessly with Shopify’s robust inventory management features.
3. Staff Permission Controls.
Shopify POS offers custom staff permissions. If you have retail employees at different tier levels, you can filter the information they can see on your POS system.
4. Limited Free Version.
If you conduct most of your business online, but need an option to take an occassional in-person sale, the free Shopify POS Lite package is your best bet.
(Related: 7 Best e-Commerce Platforms In Australia).
5. Advanced Reporting.
Reporting features of Shopify are best-in-class.
You don’t just want to do that you’re doing well – you want to know why you’re doing well – and Shopify will provide you with precise answers.
Did You Know?
With Shopify, you can calculate your costs and margins across your individual products or locations.
1. Not Cheap!
While transaction fees are in the reasonable 1.5%-1.9% ballpark, the monthly fees can add up quickly.
The base Shopify cart has very few features, so you’ll end up paying for third-party apps that attract monthly recurring fees.
2. Poor Choice Non-eCommerce Stores.
Shopify POS is a point-of-sale solution designed for integration with existing eCommerce businesses.
|How Does Shopify POS Stack Up?||Score|
|Ease Of Use||4/5|
|Business Management Tools||5/5|
Shopify POS is the best system for existing Shopify businesses with omnichannel strategies. It offers a superior POS built on its already impressive e-commerce platform.
A full range of POS hardware is also available.
Best POS for large Australian retail businesses.
Lightspeed is a one-stop commerce platform that can equip your retail or hospitality business with cloud-based POS software and hardware.
In this review, we’ll focus on its offering for retail businesses.
1. Integrated CRM Features.
As a business in the retail or hospitality industry, you probably use several programs and devices to run your business.
Combining two essential systems — a POS system and a customer management system — can save time and streamline your processes.
For example, its loyalty programs can reward customers for buying your products, encouraging them to return without any effort on your part.
2. Customer Service.
While some customers complain about Lightspeed’s customer service (which happens with almost any POS system), most report that Lightspeed has an exceptional customer service team.
As you learn to navigate this POS system, you can receive quick answers to questions from a friendly, knowledgeable support person.
3. Inventory Management.
Lightspeed’s inventory management is where it really outperforms other popular cloud-based POS software, like Square.
With Lightspeed, you’ll receive low-stock alerts to remind you to purchase new inventory. You can also benefit from built-in inventory counting to save time and minimise shrink.
Lightspeed acquired the e-commerce platform ShopKeep in 2020 and now offers Lightspeed eCom, featuring full-scale innovations for online ordering.
4. Low Transaction Fees.
While Lightspeed charges higher monthly fees than Square, which range between $79-$199 / month, it offers a low 1.3% fee on all transactions where the customer’s card is present.
Lightspeed vS Square: The Fees.
In contrast, Square’s fees range between $0-$109 / month and 1.6% – 2.2% of each transaction.
1. High Monthly Fees.
Some POS systems in Australia charge transaction fees with no monthly fees, and others charge monthly fees with no transaction fees.
- Lightspeed charges both, and the latter is not exactly insignificant.
Established businesses with a $500,000+ turnover are not likely to worry too much about the $79-$199 monthly fees, but casual retailers and new small businesses will.
Square, with its $0 monthly overhead option, presents a less risky proposition to business owners who are yet to stabilise their revenue streams fully.
2. The Hardware Looks Boring.
Lightspeed gives you the option to purchase its branded POS hardware and equipment. While robust and functional, they’re not as aesthetically pleasing as the hardware options you get from Square.
The best way I can explain the difference is:
- Square is like Apple.
- Lightspeed is like Microsoft.
Both work well, and both have loyal customer groups. But one is stylish while the other one is practical.
Dad Joke Warning.
Ironically, Square is a lot less square when it comes to design.
|How Does Lightspeed POS Stack Up?||Score|
|Ease Of Use||3/5|
|Business Management Tools||5/5|
Lightspeed is a robust, powerful, scalable platform for established, complex Australian retail businesses.
4. CommBank EFTPOS.
Best if you use BigCommerce and need POS hardware only.
CommBank is Australia’s largest financial institution – and probably isn’t the first company you think of when choosing the best POS system for your business.
Yet, it’s a player in the Australian POS software and hardware space. Chances are, you’ve tapped your card on one of CommBank’s Albert POS terminals in the last 48 hours.
(Related: 7 Best CRMs In Australia).
It’s a good fit for businesses that already use BigCommerce for their inventory management and payment processing, and need to sync it with proven, reliable hardware that’s backed by one of Australia’s top banks.
CBA offers two POS terminals: Smart and Essential Plus:
- Smart integrates with an App Marketplace to take payments on the go.
- Essential Plus integrates with your existing POS system and includes additional features, like split billing.
1. BigCommerce Partnership.
If you already run your business through BigCommerce, CommBank online payment gateway that you can integrate with your existing website.
You can easily create your online store and integrate your CommBank payment processing in the same step.
2. Recurring Payments & Billing Options.
While CommBank EFTPOS is mainly a retail POS system, it has some functionality for service providers. You can implement recurring payments and billing through BPOINT, powered by CommBank.
- You can even set up intelligent billing rules to reconcile customer payments.
(Related: Best International Money Transfer Providers).
3. Low Fees.
CommBank charges much lower fees than Square, Lightspeed and Shopify. They charge a $29.50 monthly hardware rental fee and a 1.1% transaction fee on card payments.
Revenue higher than $1 million? Speak with CommBank about customising your pricing package for your specific business; you may be able to negotiate an even better rate.
1. No Inventory Management.
CommBank EFTPOS has no inventory management features, so you’ll need to keep track of your stock separately.
You also can’t scan barcodes or automatically add up a customer’s bill through your EFTPOS terminal — you’ll need to integrate it with other POS software on a computer or smart device.
2. Limited Add-Ons And Features.
CommBank EFTPOS is a very limited system compared to most other options on our list.
With Square, Lightspeed or Shopify, you benefit from endless customisation, the ability to input your products and services and alter pricing, and advanced tools.
3. In-Depth Application.
Before you can begin using your CommBank EFTPOS system in your online or in-person store, you’ll need to submit a lengthy application.
- First, ensure that you qualify for this POS system. You’ll need a business trading name registered with ASIC, an accredited POS vendor, and a bank account for your business sales.
- Next, collect the necessary documents. You’ll need your Australian Business Number, the information for every director, partner, or trustee in your business, your monthly turnover, and more. (See the full list on the CommBank website).
- Finally, call CommBank to speak with a representative and begin your application.
|How Does The CBA Pos Stack Up?||Score|
|Ease Of Use||4/5|
|Business Management Tools||4/5|
CommBank EFTPOS is a simple POS system suitable for certain businesses.
If you’re looking for a device to process payments from credit cards but already have POS software you like, you can use CommBank’s terminals as an add-on.
Good all-rounder POS.
Hike is a cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) system with features and functionality best for retail businesses.
Its main selling point is its ability to integrate data across multiple locations, making it suitable for some large-scale retailers in Australia.
1. Easy Configuration.
Hike is easy to learn, configure, and customise for your retail store. This platform is compatible with iPads, Macs, and PCs, allowing you to integrate it with your existing point-of-sale system if desired.
Many users find the Hike interface easy to navigate, even without POS system experience.
2. Excellent Inventory Management.
Hike offers the inventory management solutions small and large businesses need to manage their stock. The system is especially useful for businesses with extensive inventory, like building supply businesses and consignment shop owners.
Aside from helping you keep track of low-stock items, Hike gives you the ability to enhance your business decisions with real-time reporting of key metrics such as:
- Sell-through rates.
3. Compatibility With Multi-Location Businesses.
Hike offers exceptional multi-store management functions with full sync of client, employee and stock data.
If you own a multi-location business, you’ll have access to sales data for any of your locations locations on any phone, tablet, or computer.
4. Excellent Support And Resources.
Hike’s customer service team is available via live chat 24/7.
Knowledgebase is also very good. Hike’s e-books, articles, courses, and tools enable you to learn the system inside and out, then use its features to your fullest advantage.
1. Pricing Structure.
Hike has two main pricing tiers:
- The first is Essential, which is $79/month.
- Plus is $109/month.
If you have a large business, you can receive custom pricing through the Enterprise plan.
2. Difficulty Changing Payment Methods.
Some users reported problems trying to change the payment methods for online orders that had already been submitted. This glitch could irritate online customers.
4. Bugs With eCommerce Integration.
While Hike boasts exceptional eCommerce integration, users have reported glitches with certain third-party integration that can cost you time.
As a result, if you run a Shopify-based eCommerce business, we’d recommend using Shopify POS for your business transactions and online ordering.
But if you mainly use other eCommerce platforms, like WooCommerce or Eqwid, you may not encounter integration issues.
|How Does Hike POS Stack Up?||Score|
|Ease Of Use||4/5|
|Business Management Tools||3/5|
Hike is an excellent choice for eCommerce businesses that don’t use Shopify and companies with multiple locations.
It’s also well-suited for stores with large inventories, as its inventory management features are developed and accessible.
Best POS for restaurants and hospitality.
TouchBistro is a full-service restaurant management system.
While this POS positions itself as the best-in-class solution to the entire hospitality industry, it’s particularly well suited to the running of restaurants.
Australia is TouchBistro’s third-largest market, but this cloud-based point-of-sale system is available in 37 countries.
1. Focus On Guest Experience.
TouchBistro is obsessed with making your guests feel good.
For instance, you can provide tableside ordering and process payments on the floor. Customers can also order takeaway, make reservations, and use coupons.
2. Staff And Inventory Management Features.
TouchBistro includes many features that go beyond typical POS software. You can manage perishable produce, manage casual employee rosters, assign shift managers, and more.
3. Some Marketing Integrations.
Loyalty programs have become standard for many restaurants in Australia, and TouchBistro makes it easy to configure them.
First-time guests will receive prompts to join a loyalty program.
You can also purchase TouchBistro add-ons to send marketing emails, advertise promotions, and more.
1. Limited Compatibility With Other Businesses.
TouchBistro is specifically a restaurant management system, so don’t use it to run a hybrid shop (e.g. clothes shop with a cafe).
2. Requires A Contract.
Several POS solutions on our list, like Square, are pay-as-you-go with no contracts or commitments. However, TouchBistro requires you to sign a contract, which can be challenging to get out of.
- You’ll need to send TouchBistro a written 30-day notice when you want to end your service.
2. High Fees.
TouchBistro starts at $107 per month, which may seem affordable. But most of its features are available as add-ons that you need to pay additional monthly fees to integrate.
If you want to use TouchBistro to the fullest extent, you’ll need to pay several hundred dollars a month, which isn’t doable for every restaurant.
|How Does TouchBistro POS Stack Up?||Score|
|Ease Of Use||4/5|
|Business Management Tools||3.5/5|
Restaurants looking for a full-scale management system that happens to include POS software should strongly consider TouchBistro.
Even those who only want to process payments can benefit from TouchBistro’s flexible pricing system by opting out of any unnecessary add-ons.
7. Retail Express.
Decent all-rounder with business management features.
Retail Express is Australian cloud-based POS software not to be confused with the British business software of the same name. T
Retail Express integrates deeper functionality than some point of sale (POS) systems, allowing you to incorporate accounting software, eCommerce management, marketing, and more into a single platform.
It’s only available in Australia and New Zealand, which may appeal to small business owners who feel more comfortable with a “made local” product.
This POS system has many features for retail businesses — some of which may not be necessary for every retailer.
1. Extensive Integrations.
Retail Express allows for integrations with numerous other apps, allowing you to incorporate it into an existing retail strategy.
- Afterpay, Microsoft, Shopify, WooCommerce, and Mailchimp are just a few of the compatible integrations.
2. Efficient Inventory Management.
Retail Express includes all the usual features that will help you manage inventory and business performance. You’ll receive
- Low-stock alerts.
- Insights about optimum inventory levels.
- Streamlined purchase ordering.
1. Non-Transparent Pricing.
Retail Express is the only retail POS system on our list that doesn’t indicate its price on its website.
Companies sometimes hide their pricing because they don’t want you to be alarmed by a fancy price tag.
- Some sources estimate that Retail Express starts at $129 per month with no free trial available.
2. Limited Customisation.
If your business ever conducts complicated sales, you may find that Retail Express lacks the customisation options you need to integrate these processes.
For instance, users had difficulty completing back orders and managing special customer orders without accidentally ordering too much stock.
|How Does Retail Expres POS Stack Up?||Score|
|Ease Of Use||3.5/5|
|Business Management Tools||3.5/5|
If you own a retail business and want to integrate your POS system with accounting software and other business systems, Retail Express can provide the features you need.
While this program is more basic than other POS providers, it’s suitable for multi-channel businesses and those with straightforward sales processes.
7 Factors To Consider When Choosing A POS System.
Modern Australian POS systems are packed with features, but not all are useful. The most mission-critical factors give your small business the tools to succeed without saddling it with excessive overheads.
Here are my top 7 factors for choosing the best POS system in Australia:
1. Marketing Superpowers.
The right POS will capture customer data with every transaction.
- You can use this data to drive more sales via email marketing campaigns, Facebook ad retargeting, loyalty programs, sales offers tied to birthdays, etc.
2. Ease Of Use.
Modern POS systems have embraced UX/UI practices to create gorgeous, user-friendly, intuitive interfaces.
This will translate to faster employee training times and increased efficiency.
- If your POS has an unfriendly, clunky, convoluted interface, it will frustrate your staff and your customers, creating inefficiencies and damaging your brand.
3. Multiple Payment Options.
Best POS systems allow you to process payments from cash, swiped, tapped and inserted credit cards as well as NFC-equipped phones.
4. Inventory Management.
Holding the right volume of stock or products will make or break your store. Hold too much, and you’ll incur unnecessary overheads). Hold too little, and you’ll frustrate your customers.
- Best POS systems alert you when stocks are low. More advanced ones, like Lightspeed, can even create purchase orders.
5. Fees Aligned To Your Business’ Growth
Most POS software packages in Australia charge monthly and per-transaction fees. Higher monthly fees usually translate to lower per-transaction fees, and vice versa.
- If you’re just starting (less than $100K annual turnover, unpredictable or infrequent sales), you will appreciate not having the stress of a monthly fee.
- If you’re pushing a lot of money (more than $1,000,000 per year) through your POS, every tenth of a percentage will translate to thousands of dollars in lost revenue every year.
6. Affordable Scalability.
Choose a POS that allows you to add or delete locations and additional terminals with ease.
Avoid any system that expects you to manage clunky and expensive servers or has software that doesn’t update automatically.
7. Effective Support.
Something will go wrong, eventually. When it does, you’ll appreciate having access to 24/7 phone or live chat support, with agents located in Australia. Anything less than this is a compromise.
What Are The Top 5 Benefits Of A POS System?
A POS isn’t just a fancy cash register. It’s the nerve centre of your small business.
But if you do so, you’ll miss out on benefits that can lead to more revenue, happier customers and smoother operations.
Here are my top 5 reasons you must choose the best POS system for your business:
- Improved Customer Experience. Your POS solution must track all of your customer data, allowing you to leverage this data to improve customer experience and/or increase revenue.
- Reduced Overheads. Automation of menial tasks is the key to keeping wages in check. A good POS will reduce the steps each staff member takes to complete a task. For example, if a client returns a product, the POS should update your stock levels and adjust your accounting automatically.
- Bulletproof Security. Data breaches, robberies and credit card fraud are more common than you think. Best POS systems like Square and Lightspeed encrypt credit card data and don’t store it on the system itself.
- Faster Transactions. Thanks to 5G, cloud-based software and M1 microprocessors, your cutomers experience faster checkout times. The days of “talking to the bank” via hardwired phone lines are long gone.
- Fewer Errors. Mistakes are inevitable, but a well-designed POS will help your staff make less of them. For example, it will prevent a staff member from selling a product you don’t have in your inventory.
What Is The Cheapest POS Systems In Australia?
- Square is the cheapest point-of-sale system when it comes to monthly fees. The $0 plan is a godsend to small businesses that don’t have the security of regular revenue.
- Lightspeed has the lowest transaction fees in Australia, with a low 1.3% rate.
Should You Use Vend As Your POS Provider?
Eagle-eyed business owners will notice we didn’t feature Vend in this review.
In March 2021, Vend was acquired by Lightspeed, and their products are currently being rebranded as Lightspeed Retail POS (X-Series). We recommend that you choose Lightspeed instead.
Is Wix POS Available In Australia?
Not yet. Wix POS is currently only available in U.S. and Canada, but it may arrive on Australian shores in the last quarter of 2023.
Bottom Line About Choosing The Best POS System In Australia.
Don’t even think about running your business or retail shop without a good POS system. More than just a payment processor, the best POS system will unlock levels of competitive advantage that can help you reduce your overheads, onboard new staff and make more sales.